Growing up in an Italian family, the night before Christmas was always very important and looked forward to more than Christmas Day. The kids were allowed to stay up well past midnight while the adults would play tombola (which is basically bingo but instead of using a bingo dabber we’d use beans, lentils or any available legume) until the wee hours of the morning. Il Vigilia di Natale is celebrated in most Italian families by not eating meat the entire day. Then on Christmas day we’d enjoy what we like to refer as “the Christmas Ravioli” or some years “the Christmas Lasagna”. It wasn’t until my brother started dating an “english” girl that we realized not every family has lasagna for their holiday dinner and they actually have turkey instead. Turkey? Isn’t that only for Thanksgiving? Apparently not. (Thanks for setting us straight Jill!)
My mom would spend all day in the kitchen preparing anything fish related. Linguine with shrimp, seafood salad with calamari, shrimp, squid and crab, smelt (tiny little fishies) and baccala (a salt cured cod). Deeeeeliscious! Now while this sounds great for someone who loves seafood, it wasn’t so great for my brother who hates it.
So every year, while the entire family gorges on seafood, my brother eats a bowl of pasta with no tomato sauce and polpette while we mercilessly taunt him with”but if you just tried the shrimp you’d like it!” to which he would respond “for the hundredth time I’ve tried it and I don’t like it!!!”
What are polpette? Well they are basically potato dumplings that my mom makes for him because he’s “special”. This year was no exception. Now just because my mom makes them for my brother doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t get a taste. They are crispy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside. Give them a try I think you’ll like them!
Polpette di Patate (Potato Dumplings)
6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
Seasoned bread crumbs
Fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain them then mash them until they are smooth. Add the egg and one handful of breadcrumbs (preferably seasoned, it adds a better taste). Add the chopped fresh parsley. Add the salt and pepper to taste. In a skillet with enough vegetable oil to fry, take one tablespoon of the mixture and gently place into the hot oil. Once it is golden brown on one side, flip it over until it is golden brown on the other then remove and place on a plate lined with a paper towel to remove the excess cooking oil.